Vytorin and Zetia may have hit bottom

Well, it's not good news for those long-suffering cholesterol meds Vytorin and Zetia--but at least it's not more bad news. The two drugs, which have seen new scrips fall and fall again since less-than-stellar research news first hit in January, may finally be bottoming out.

The latest sales report from Schering-Plough shows that prescriptions for the two meds actually took a tiny tick upward to $2.19 million in October from $2.17 million in September. That's way down from the $3 million-plus posted back in January, but the numbers could definitely be worse.

As you know, Schering and Merck together sell Vytorin, a combo of the Merck statin Zocor (generic simvastatin) and Zetia, another cholesterol fighter that works via a different mechanism. Since January, the Vytorin/Zetia franchise has sustained a series of blows, starting with the Enhance study, which suggested that Vytorin doesn't slow heart disease any better than Zocor would on its own. Another study suggested that Vytorin and Zetia might boost the risk of cancer, and though that data has been called anomalous by various experts, the continuing debate hasn't helped sales.

As the Wall Street Journal Health Blog notes, next month's scrip figures could be telling: If the numbers continue to hold their own, Vytorin and Zetia may finally have hit bottom.

- read the Health Blog post